Man jailed for the murder of Rochdale’s ‘black magic’ imam
Mohammed Syeedy, 21, above, was today jailed for a minimum of 24 years for his role in the brutal killing of Jalal Uddin.
The 71-year-old former imam, according to this report, practised taweez, a form of Islamic spiritual healing considered to be “black magic” by some extremists.
On hearing the jury’s guilty verdict, Syeedy put his head in his hands and shook it in disbelief. In the public gallery, his family gasped and sobbed.
Uddin’s family, who travelled from Bangladesh to Manchester to attend the three-week trial, hugged and sobbed after Syeedy was led away.
The murder alarmed counter-terrorism experts, who fear that homegrown extremists are increasingly targeting fellow Muslims who they view as “heretics”.
Uddin, above, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer on his way home from a mosque in Rochdale on February 18. He was attacked with repeated, forceful blows from behind after having been under surveillance by his killers for months, the trial at Manchester crown court heard.
He was a former imam at the mosque Syeedy attended.
Jurors were told that Syeedy and his accomplice, Mohammed Abdul Kadir, stalked Uddin around the streets of Rochdale before Kadir launched the attack on the older man in a children’s playground.
Syeedy, the getaway driver, denied knowing about the murder plot.
Kadir, a former John Lewis call centre worker, was not on trial because he fled to Istanbul three days after the murder. Counter-terrorism detectives are hunting for the 24-year-old, but believe he may have crossed the border into Syria to join Isis.
Syeedy and Kadir, from Rochdale and Oldham respectively, developed a hatred of Uddin last summer after discovering he practised taweez.
Uddin moved to Rochdale 15 years ago from Bangladesh. The former imam was well known in the area for his use of healing amulets to cure ill health and protect people from “evil spirits”.
Uddin, known as the Qari Saab by his followers for his deep understanding of the Koran, was mocked as a magician by Syeedy and his friends, who nicknamed him Voldemort after the evil wizard in the Harry Potter books.
Six months before the murder, Syeedy and his friends destroyed Uddin’s notes and books on taweez after stealing them from their mosque. They then started monitoring Uddin’s whereabouts, taking covert pictures of him in the street.
When detectives arrested Syeedy five days after the murder, they found gruesome footage on his phone of Uddin dying, along with reams of Isis propaganda.
Jurors were shown photographs of Syeedy holding an Isis-style flag outside the Jalalia mosque. In another image, he wore a stab-proof vest outside the mosque.
Other photographs showed Syeedy and two people holding a jihadi flag over a road sign in Rochdale that had been altered to read: “War zone”.
Detectives also found a black, Isis-style baseball cap, arm patches and a flag in Syeedy’s home, where he lived with his mother, younger sister and younger brother.
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, told the court that Syeedy had been drawn in by Isis propaganda surrounding the Syrian war over a period of three years.
Giving evidence, Syeedy denied knowing anything about Uddin’s murder, but admitted he was with Kadir before and after the attack.
He said he never suspected that his friend, who he knew was an Isis sympathiser, had killed Uddin, even though the former imam was found dead moments after Kadir left the playground.
Syeedy, an electrical engineering student who dropped out of university, denied being an Isis supporter and described the group’s actions as “completely wrong”.
He told jurors he did not agree with Uddin’s use of taweez because it was dangerous to meddle with the supernatural world, but that it was up to God to deliver the punishment. He told the jury:
This is my country, I abide by the laws.